Day 42 – Friday 10th
August – Cape Range National Park, Tulki Beach campground
Mark and I set the alarm for 6am and went for a pre-dawn walk along the beach at Kurrajong, looking out for wildlife and taking photos. On the beach we saw one euro and in the water we saw a couple of humpback whales on the horizon. Once the sun was properly up and the air warmed up a bit I went for an investigatory snorkel along Kurrajong beach. I saw loads of fish in the clear blue water and then found a small coral reef further along the beach which was teeming with fish. It was time to get the rest of the family in the water to see how amazing it was.
We had been snorkelling for about 15 mins when someone from the beach shouted “Dolphin!” and pointed to a spot very close to where we were. We spotted the fin of the dolphin and knew it was a dolphin. Luke spotted the fin and thought it was a shark. His little arms and legs were whirring like crazy as he swam back to us with a very panicked look
in his mask. He was relieved when we told him it was only a dolphin. We swam towards it over the coral. It seemed to wait for us for a short while but then swam off into the distance. We didn’t get to touch it but we felt like we had been swimming with a dolphin. It was an awesome start to the day.
We could only book one night at Kurrajong campground so had to pack up by 10am and move to our next spot, Tulki Beach campsite about 10 kms north of Kurrajong. Tulki Beach is the closest camping spot to the famous Turquoise Bay, where the coral reef comes in very close to the beach and the snorkelling is amazing. Tulki Beach campground had just been upgraded and the camp spots were beautifully flat and fenced off with low fencing. We set up the tent again and checked out Tulki Beach, which was flat and sandy with few rocks and coral.
After lunch we drove the 5 mins to Turquoise Bay to check out the reef. There are two places to snorkel in Turquoise Bay - the drift snorkel to the south where you drift
with the current over the reef, and the bay to the north. We decided to do the drift snorkel first and parked ourselves on the very windy beach. We donned flippers and masks and entered the turquoise water, feeling the strong current already. The reef is only about 15m out from the beach so we didn’t have far to go before we saw the first coral and fish. I am guessing that we saw roughly 50 different species of fish in the space of 15 mins – parrot fish chomping away at the coral with their hard beaks and colourful scales, little neon blue fish, zebra fish, yellow and white stripey fish and various other fish from “Finding Nemo” (apart from the Nemo clownfish, the scary shark and the evil anglerfish!).
Most of the coral was dark brown and dark yellow but there were odd bursts of colour with neon blue buds appearing at the ends of some finger coral and a lilac coating on large smooth corals. The fish provided most of the colour under the water, which was beautifully clear. You need to exit the drift snorkel before the spit at the end of the beach
or the rip will whisk you out to beyond the reef and into some trouble at sea. We had our waterproof camera with us and took some shots of the coral and fish, not really knowing how the photos would turn out. As we have a 32 gig SD card in the camera we could just shoot away and delete the bad shots on the computer when viewing.
We had a rest on the beach for a while, soaking up the sun and feverishly reading the Millennium Trilogy books (Mark and I) before going back for one more go on the drift snorkel circuit. At 4.30 we dragged ourselves away from the beach and back to the campsite, ready for our sundowner on the beach. It was still seriously windy and it felt like proper kite weather. Anna and Luke took the kite out for their first beach kite session at sunset on Tulki beach.
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